A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Mandela's Long Life Due to Noble Work?

(LiveScience) Nelson Mandela's noble lifework, which will be admired and remembered for years to come, may have also in part contributed to his long life, experts say.
The former South African leader, who played a lead role in ending apartheid and served as the country's first post-apartheid president between 1991 and 1997, died Thursday (Dec. 5) at age 95.
Mandela reached an old age in spite of experiencing significant adversity, including 27 years in prison.
Mandela's positive attitude, as well as the notion that he was working on behalf of his country, may have served to buffer him from physical stress and help him cope with some of this adversity, Vickie Mays, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, told LiveScience.
Community: His lungs suffered terribly due to conditions during his imprisonment, but he lived a long life anyway. It’s a powerful argument for doing good.
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Mandela - The Power of Choosing Optimism Over Despair

(Patty Chang Anker, Psychology Today) Often when we feel defeated, when we give up trying to change anything, we have no idea what the cost to the world is.  We just accept things as they are. 
In 2001 my husband and I took a trip to Capetown, South Africa and saw the bleak conditions at Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of the 27 years he would spend in prison.  Everywhere we went outside though, the mood was jubilant. Apartheid had ended in 1994, and people were making plans. A black security guard (a former physicist) said  he was thinking of going to business school. An Indian taxi driver mused that anyone of any color could now date anyone else. My husband, who is white, and I (Asian) sat a little closer together.  She also said, as we drove by a public beach, that she and her sister were not allowed to walk on that beach after apartheid started in 1948, and when it ended 46 years later they went and stuck their feet in the water just because they could. Everywhere people welcomed us because after being isolated from the world for so long, they rejoiced in doing business, exchanging ideas with others.
Nelson Mandela, by remaining optimistic, determined, and tireless, through all the dark times, changed all of these people’s lives, created a new future for his country and inspired the world to greater cooperation. Today, when I hold my husband’s hand in public, or think about what careers my daughters could contemplate, I’ll think of the optimistic pioneers who sacrificed and worked to make such freedoms possible. Perhaps I'll think about the difference my remaining optimistic and resilient in my life could make in the world too.
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We need more Mandelas

(Brent Budowsky, The Hill) As American and world leaders offer high praise to the magnificent and courageous man known as Nelson Mandela, I propose we mourn his passing not merely with words of praise for the greatness of Mandela but with challenges for bold action in the spirit of Mandela…
Nelson Mandela was one of the great leaders of his century. His story is one of the great triumphs of our century. Slowly but surely the rights of man and woman take center stage in a changing world.
We live in an America where politics is held in wide disrepute and the popularity of the Congress, the president and political institutions have all fallen like rocks down an avalanche. Yet nothing changes in a system dominated by cash, managed by consultants and governed by cowardice.
Let’s honor Mandela, one of the greatest men who ever walked the earth, with this: 
Ask not how you can praise Mandela. Ask how you can be more like him.
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Nelson Mandela death: Examining the backlash

(CNN) Within minutes of the news of his death, the backlash started. In the comments section of his CNN.com obituary, on Twitter feeds, in blog posts.
In the comments section of his CNN.com obituary, on Twitter feeds, in blog posts.
Nelson Mandela shouldn't be revered as a civil rights icon, the statements screamed: He should be exposed for what he is: A communist. A terrorist. A racist.
To be sure, Mandela can't be neatly grouped with Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. Unlike them, he wasn't always the pacifist he was known for in his later life.
But should that be grounds for such bile-spewing vitriol?
Community: I know exactly what’s behind the backlash. It’s a gigantic disinformation machine funded by rich, right-wing families. It’s been going on for at least 50 years, and one of their newer tactics (since 2000, at least, which I know from personal experience) is to have paid shock troops who fan out over the internet to foment lies about anyone who tries to do any good in the world, especially if that good involves showing a spirit of generosity and love. What a surprise that CNN has no idea these troops exist!
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More Observations on Nelson Mandela's Life and Legacy

(Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Nelson Mandela showed us that the posttraumatic growth of an individual may benefit an entire nation.
(Molly S. Castelloe, Ph.D., Psychology Today) As a child among boyhood friends, Mandela was once thrown from a donkey into a thorn bush. This taught him a lifelong lesson: “to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonoring them.”
(Dominic Packer, Ph.D., Psychology Today) In 1995, Nelson Mandela knew that his country faced extraordinary times. He knew that the human desire to re-establish justice following injustice, which normally keeps societies intact, would rip his apart. Mandela held South Africa together by eschewing retribution, and persuading others to do the same. And he went to a very important rugby match…
(Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Lord Acton said that power corrupts but he went on to say that "great men are almost always bad men." Is this true of Nelson Mandela? He did bad things but the good things he did reshaped him to transform him into the inspirational person he was. Everyone does some bad some time, including psychotherapists and denying the bad can lead to its perpetuation.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
White Wine-Marinated Steak
The three-ingredient marinade for these steaks also serves as the secret to the sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans
EatingWell:
Steak Burritos for Two
Here’s a burrito inspired by San Francisco’s super burritos that come packed with meat, beans, rice, guacamole and salsa. We’ve kept this home-style version for two a bit simpler to make and a whole lot healthier with brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas and a more reasonable serving size. We recommend wrapping it in foil—the traditional way to serve it—so you can pick the burrito up and eat it without it falling apart, peeling back the foil as you go. Serve with a cold beer and vinegar-dressed slaw.
Los Angeles Times:
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"Cannibal sandwiches" sicken residents in US Midwest

(Reuters) Residents in the upper U.S. Midwest should ditch their seasonal tradition of eating "cannibal sandwiches" made of raw ground beef, health officials warned, citing multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses since the 1970s and cases last year…
Raw beef "cannibal sandwiches" have also been linked to at least four cases, and possibly more than a dozen, of sickness tied to E. Coli bacteria in the central region of Wisconsin over the 2012 winter holiday season, the CDC said.
The bacteria can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure.
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Dark-Green Vegetables Associated with an Increased Response to Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Americans of African Ancestry

(Journal of Nutrition) Although substantial variation exists in individual responses to omega-3 (ω-3) (n–3) fatty acid supplementation, the causes for differences in response are largely unknown.
Here we investigated the associations between the efficacy of ω-3 fatty acid supplementation and a broad range of nutritional and clinical factors collected during a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in participants of African ancestry…
Mixed-mode linear regression modeling identified high … and low … ω-3 fatty acid response groups… Although total diet quality scores were similar, the low-response group showed lower estimated 2005 Healthy Eating Index subscores for dark-green and orange vegetables and legumes … and a lower intake of vegetables…, particularly dark-green vegetables…
Because the findings reported here are associative in nature, prospective studies are needed to determine if dietary dark-green vegetables or nutrients contained in these foods can enhance the efficacy of ω-3 fatty acid supplements.
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The Surprising Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

(Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN, U.S. News & World Report) Most people associate apple cider vinegar with cooking, but its uses go far beyond the kitchen. Apple cider vinegar can provide a wide array of health benefits. It is a true power food!
Among the long list of issues it can address, apple cider vinegar can help facilitate weight loss and mood enhancement. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from anxiety and/or depression and more than one-third of the U.S. population is obese. Many times these issues go hand in hand.
This is why there are so many weight-loss and mood-enhancing products on the market today. If you are having issues with your weight and/or mood, apple cider vinegar is a safe, natural alternative you should try before turning to pharmaceuticals or gimmicky products.
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What Is Turmeric?

(LiveScience) Turmeric, an ingredient in most curries and mustards, has a history of being used as more than just a spice. Turmeric's deep-orange pigment has long been used as a dye, and both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine traditions use turmeric in treatments. Turmeric has also held a place in religious ceremonies across India for thousands of years.
Today, supplement makers say turmeric may be useful for people with inflammation or joint pain, or for those who want to take antioxidants, which turmeric contains. Turmeric is also purported to treat heartburn, stomach ulcers, gallstones, wounds and eczema. Some claim turmeric can aid digestion and regulate menstruation…
Turmeric contains beta-carotene, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), calcium, flavonoids, fiber, iron, niacin, potassium, zinc and other nutrients. But the chemical in turmeric linked to its most highly touted health effects is curcumin…
[Its] primary effect on the body is that it decreases inflammation, which is associated with many health conditions.
Community: Remember that you do better to eat black pepper with the turmeric, to help the digestive tract absorb more it. Honestly, folks, turmeric is almost like a miracle drug. It may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, type 2 diabetes, and joint pain, and may help build bone.
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Colon Cancer Linked to Low Diversity of Gut Bacteria

(LiveScience) People who have a less diverse population of bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts may be more likely to get colon cancer, a new study suggests.
Researchers also found that people who were diagnosed with colon cancer had fewer beneficial bacteria, and more harmful bacteria than people without the disease…
The study authors said that because the composition of gut bacteria is potentially modifiable, their results may have practical implications for the prevention of colon cancer.
[Study author Jiyoung] Ahn said that additional research could lead to ways to alter gut bacteria to promote health. She said that some suspected factors that could affect the amount of diversity in gut bacteria include diet, such as a person's intake of fruits, vegetables and beans (all rich sources of fiber), as well as obesity.
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Emerging Bird Flu Strain Poorly Adapted for Infecting Humans

(Science Daily) Avian influenza virus H7N9, which killed several dozen people in China earlier this year, has not yet acquired the changes needed to infect humans easily, according to a new study by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).
In contrast to some initial studies that had suggested that H7N9 poses an imminent risk of a global pandemic, the new research found, based on analyses of virus samples from the Chinese outbreak, that H7N9 is still mainly adapted for infecting birds, not humans.
"Luckily, H7N9 viruses just don't yet seem well adapted for binding to human receptors," said Ian A. Wilson.
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Activating Pathway Could Restart Hair Growth in Dormant Hair Follicles

(Science Daily) A pathway known for its role in regulating adult stem cells has been shown to be important for hair follicle proliferation, but contrary to previous studies, is not required within hair follicle stem cells for their survival, according to researchers… A new study … identifies a molecular pathway that can be activated to prompt hair growth of dormant hair follicles, or blocked to prevent growth of unwanted hair…
Important areas of focus for future work will include developing effective means of safely targeting therapeutics to the skin for clinical and cosmetic applications.
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Nurse-Led Innovations Demonstrate Improved Patient Outcomes, Bottom-Line Impact

(Science Daily) Nurse-led initiatives in Indiana measurably improved patient outcomes while demonstrating anticipated financial savings of more than $5.2 million to their organizations, according to initial results from a hospital-based nurse leadership and innovation training program launched last year by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
AACN developed this team-oriented and hands-on educational experience, AACN Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy, to empower bedside nurses as clinician leaders and change agents whose initiatives generate quantifiable improvements in the quality of patient care and hospital bottom line.
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Does Knowing Medical Prices Save Money? CalPERS Experiment Says Yes

(Kaiser Health News) In an effort to raise awareness and rein in what can seem like the Wild West of health care, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the second largest benefits program in the country, and Anthem Blue Cross started a “reference pricing” initiative in 2011. The initiative involved a system to guide their enrollees to choose facilities where routine hip and knee replacement procedures cost less than $30,000…
The results tallied savings of $2.8 million for CalPERS, and $300,000 in patients’ cost sharing, according to research released Thursday by the Center for Studying Health System Change for the non-profit group National Institute for Health Care Reform.
Researchers found that patients who received “intensive communication” from CalPERS were supportive of the efforts and recognized lack of price transparency in the system. The report also said enrollees were satisfied with the level of care they received when choosing facilities that met their cost threshold.
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Congress Working? Or Not?

(CQ HealthBeat) A budget deal now in the works appears likely to provide little relief from the sequester’s bite on the budgets of federal health agencies —and none at all for the Medicare program. For now, the best-case scenario for relief from the sequester provisions of the budget control law (PL 112-25) appears to be a framework under discussion that would raise spending a modest amount over the rest of this fiscal year in exchange for compensating offsets elsewhere in the budget.
(CQ HealthBeat) Lawmakers on House and Senate committees have made a number of changes to their joint, bipartisan proposal to replace how Medicare pays physicians, in hopes of having dual markups on the legislation next week.  The alterations to the draft legislative framework reflect comments from provider and patient groups, as well as other stakeholders.
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Kentucky Governor Sees Promise For Democrats In Health Care Law

(Los Angeles Times) For congressional Democrats worried about the toll Obamacare might take on their reelection chances next fall, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear delivered a surprising message.
"You know what Democrats ought to run on next November? The idea that we want every American to have affordable healthcare," the two-term Democrat said Thursday.
Beshear spoke to House Democrats in a closed-door meeting about his state's experience with implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The commonwealth has become "the gold standard" for implementation thus far, Beshear said, with heavy interest from residents and 69,000 enrollments so far.
"We showed that the system can work and will work," Beshear said.
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More Affordable Care Act News

(CNN Money) Just because you've picked an Obamacare insurance policy doesn't mean you've got coverage. If you want to be insured come Jan. 1, you have to pay your first month's premium by your insurer's due date, often Dec. 31. Sounds simple enough, but federal officials and insurers are concerned that many consumers don't realize they have to take this last step and will remain uninsured.
(UPI) Some 3.7 million U.S. consumers visited HealthCare.gov from midnight Sunday to noon Friday -- to learn about their insurance options, an official says.
(NBC News) The U.S. federal health insurance website HealthCare.gov, which has had technology problems since its Oct. 1 launch, is now experiencing errors in transmitting applications about 10 percent of the time, a government spokeswoman said on Friday. 
(Shots, NPR) Some Californians whose policies have been canceled are finding relief in a surprising place: from insurance companies that aren't offering plans on the new Covered California marketplace.
(UPI) Low-income U.S. adults and those age 30 and younger -- two key groups targeted by the Affordable Care Act -- are the least familiar with it, a survey says.
(Washington Post) Acknowledging widespread issues with the process of enrolling for new health-care coverage, House officials reiterated Thursday that lawmakers and their staffs whose current health insurance is set to be terminated at the end of the year will automatically have that coverage extended until the end of January unless they have already enrolled in new coverage.
Community: It should be the same for everyone.
(Nancy Metcalf, Consumer Reports) [T]here is a difference, a big one, and you need to understand it in order to make an intelligent choice of insurance plan. Here’s my FAQ on the subject.
(ThinkProgress) While memorializing Nelson Mandela, the former presidential candidate likened the "injustice" of racial oppression to the "injustice" of affordable health care.
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Give Health for Christmas

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) permit me to suggest that this holiday season, you don't just wish for health, you gift it. I have put the entire skill set on which I rely into my new book, Disease Proof. It's an action plan for that Vulcan aspiration.
Admittedly, it is self-serving to propose my book as a gift, but I am doing just that, and with limited reluctance. Yes, it would be good for me. But I didn't write the book to sell the book; I wrote the book to do good. But it can only do good if people read it. And as you will see from the reviews of Disease Proof by both diverse experts whose names you will likely know, and diverse readers whose names you will not, it is very likely to do you good if you read it. So this is a case of doing well by doing good -- and I think that's fine for both of us.
What's not fine is to keep on hoping for health. The best way to predict the future of health -- our own, and that of our loved ones -- is to create it. Simply wishing for what we could choose to make happen is extremely illogical.
So permit me to suggest you get, and give, the gift that truly keeps on giving: the skill set for losing weight, finding health, living long, and prospering. I believe all of us want those things for ourselves and those we love. Gifting that opportunity, rather than merely wishing for it, is only logical.
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The World Needs You to Invest in Your Health

(Tom Rath, Psychology Today) Our sedentary, sleepless, fast food lifestyle is now infecting the rest of the developed world. The percent of people who are overweight or obese is now even higher in Mexico and wealthy Middle Eastern countries than it is here in the U.S. If we fail to do something about this soon, the lifestyle we export will kill far more people abroad than wars and drones over the next quarter century.
As a citizen of the United States, my take is: we have a responsibility to help fix the global health crisis we started.
After studying the sources of this crisis for several years, I am convinced the best way to curb this epidemic is one social network at a time. If you look back at how we reversed the trend of smoking, we essentially pushed cigarettes to the edges of our largest social networks. We kicked smoking out of our schools, offices, restaurants, stores, airplanes, homes, and buildings.
When we debate what led to this change in smoking, or any other large-scale societal shift, it is easy to underestimate the role of the workplace. Yet I have found that organizations are the largest and most influential networks for creating dramatic change. If we want to tackle the crisis of poor health, we need mobilize these social networks. The best way to combat poor health is one workplace, school, and congregation at a time.
At some point, we need to realize that we are all in this battle together. I need to be healthier to enjoy my days, live longer, serve my community, and be a more active spouse and parent. I need my loved ones to be healthier so they are happy, energetic, and around for years to come. I also need my colleagues to make better lifestyle choices so they can contribute more to our shared work, minimize the soaring cost of healthcare for all of us, and help to create a culture where good health is a priority.
Community: And elsewhere, “World Bank Sets Goal for Access to Health Care.”
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Community factors contribute to health

(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) Living a long and healthy life is kind of like a game of chutes and ladders. You might go along thinking that by visiting your doctor every year (ladder) and choosing to nosh on lots of veggies (ladder) that you are on-track, but ... sorry! Your neighborhood lacks a grocery store stocked with healthy foods (chute), it doesn’t have any safe parks or green spaces to exercise (chute), you live in a house full of smokers (chute); and to top it all off, you just lost your job in this tough economy (chute !).
A lot of factors affect our health outside our doctor’s office and beyond the power of our own individual choice. Community factors such as safety, the accessibility of healthy foods and recreational spaces, and the support of families and social networks, undeniably contribute to our health. The more we understand the connection between our health and our community, the more opportunities we have to improve it.
RWJF offers a superb resource called the County Health Rankings and Roadmap (CHRR) to help us understand these community factors, create community improvement plans, and even earn financial prizes for outstanding progress.
Community: How about asking people: “Self-Reported Well-Being Could Help Inform Policies.”
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What Greek Wisdom Can Teach The Rest Of The World About Living Well

(Huffington Post) [I]t's not just ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle who unlocked the secrets to a meaningful life. The health habits and leisure rituals of modern Greece also have a lot to teach the rest of the world about health and happiness.
Here are 11 Greek secrets to living well.
They eat a healthy Mediterranean diet…
They take naps…
They appreciate the value of a good walk…
They ask the big questions…
They take hospitality and generosity very seriously…
They've unlocked the secrets to longevity…
They take time for leisure…
They tell stories…
They spend time outdoors…
They come together over good food…
They know where to find happiness.
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Things Healthy Women Do Differently

(Huffington Post) [T]here are individual behaviors that have been shown -- in many cases definitively -- to help improve and maintain women's health. Habits that have a direct and measurable impact on women's bodies and minds, and that healthy women therefore embrace…
Healthy women cultivate friendships…
They have a [health] screening plan…
They take medication seriously…
They prioritize sleep…
They have great sex -- coupled and alone…
And they're safe while doing it…
They find an exercise approach they like, and stick with it…
They eat according to their life stage…
They watch their alcohol consumption…
They don't neglect their hearts…
They're careful about what they put on their bodies…
They wear sunscreen -- and never, ever use tanning beds…
They meditate…
They make stress management a priority.
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More Information and Recent Research on General Health

(Scientific American) What is the value of an intact rainforest? From a people perspective, maybe it's more useful turned into lumber and cropland. The responses to such arguments have often cited what are called ecosystem services. These are the keys to life that natural systems provide for free—think: breathable air and potable water. Other counters point to the psychological benefits of the natural world. Now we have a new reason for conservation: human health.
(Reuters) Health disparities between rich and poor nations could be banished in a generation by investment in research, vaccines and drugs to combat diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, global health experts said on Tuesday. In a report setting out a plan for a "grand convergence" in health, the experts said world leaders needed to press for a concerted increase in research and development (R&D) investment to develop new medicines, vaccines and health technologies.
(Science Daily) [N]ew research from St. Michael’s Hospital says how sick a patient appears to be may have limited value in diagnosing their actual state of health… “Our findings suggest that despite its traditional role in the physical examination, a physician’s assessment that a patient appears to be chronically ill has limited value in the detection of poor health status.”
(Pew Internet & American Life Project) 45% of U.S. adults report that they live with one or more chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but also less common conditions like lupus and cancer. They are more likely than other adults to be older, to have faced a medical emergency in the past year, and, as other studies have shown, to contribute to the explosion of health care costs in the U.S.
Community: So maybe that’s why “Social Media Use Tripled Among 65 and Older.”
(NBC News) Emergency rooms — which can cost patients thousands of dollars each visit — have become the primary source of medical care for the uninsured and people with chronic illnesses. A Minnesota health care provider is testing a new program in the hopes of reducing ER admissions and keeping people healthier: they’re sending paramedics on house calls to some of the area’s sickest patients who might otherwise end up in the ER. 
(MedPage Today) Women in general are healthier than men and live longer, but the advantage comes at a price -- an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, a researcher said… Adult women are also at higher risk for allergies and asthma, even though young males have a higher burden of those chronic illnesses, according to Renata Engler, MD… The reasons are complicated, not well understood, and require much more research, Engler said.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Peppered Pork and Pears
Ground mixed peppercorns give a slightly sweet, barely hot flavor to the pork and pears. If you don't have pear brandy, substitute regular brandy or additional chicken broth. Serve with egg noodles
EatingWell:
Oven-Fried Fish & Chips
Fish and chips are traditionally sold wrapped in paper to soak up all the grease—not a good sign. To cut the calories in half and reduce the fat, we coat the delicate fish in a crispy cornflake crust and then bake it along with sliced potatoes. Serve with: Coleslaw and malt vinegar or lemon wedges.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
French Lentil Soup
On cool, damp nights, there's nothing that warms the gullet more than a robust Mediterranean-inspired, wholesome stew. This soup is thick with meaty French lentils, sweet potato and mushrooms of your choice.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
Holiday Spiced Nuts
Roasted peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and almonds are seasoned with ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cayenne, though you can use your own favorite spice mixture if you prefer. Roasting the nuts enhances the absorption and flavors of the spices. Pack the nuts in colorful cellophane bags, or pack them in a Mason jar. Either way, add a homemade label with a merry greeting.
Community: Use them as party appetizers or give as gifts – the best way to wish your loved ones a long life!
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Healthy diet costs $550 more per year than unhealthy one

(Medical News Today) A new Harvard analysis of the best evidence available on the price differences between the healthiest and unhealthiest diets finds that on average, individuals need to spend about $1.50 more per day, or around $550 a year, to keep to the healthiest diets…
[The researchers] found that the healthiest diets, for example those rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish, cost on average significantly more than the unhealthiest ones, such as those rich in processed foods, meats and refined grains…
Among the food groups, meat and protein foods had the largest price differences, with healthier options costing $0.29 per serving and $0.47 more per 200 calories than less healthy ones…
[The researchers] suggest one reason unhealthy diets are cheaper is because food policies support the production of cheap, high volume commodities, and this has resulted in a complex system that produces, stores, transports, processes and markets food so as to "favor sales of highly processed food products for maximal industry profit."
This now needs to be balanced with a similar system that supports the production of healthier foods so as to increase the availability and reduce the prices of healthier diets, they urge.
Community: Yes, definitely change the policies. But there are ways to cut down on the costs of the healthier diet, too, primarily by cutting down on the amount of meat and fresh fish you eat.
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Study casts doubt on whether extra vitamin D prevents disease

(Reuters) Researchers cast doubt on the prevailing wisdom that vitamin D supplements can prevent conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, saying on Friday low vitamin D may be a consequence, not a cause, of ill health.
The findings … could have implications for millions of people who take vitamin D pills and other supplements to ward off illness - Americans spend an estimated $600 million a year on them alone.
Vitamin D, sometimes known as the "sunshine vitamin" is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight and in found in foods like fish liver oil, eggs and fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel.
It is known to boost the uptake of calcium and bone formation…
[E]xperts not involved in [the] review said its conclusions were not definitive, and cautioned against reading it as a reason to dissuade people from taking vitamin D.
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Statins, Static and the Status Quo: Is Anyone Getting the Signal?

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) I rather doubt you need me to bring the roiling statin debate to your attention, given its prominence in scientific circles and mass media alike. In essence, a new set of guidelines for the use of lipid-lowering drugs to prevent heart disease was issued with considerable fanfare and then set off a firestorm of controversy…
As far as I'm concerned, the entire debate about statins is part of our societal static. It's a background noise of cultural misdirection that favors the conflated interests of Big Food and Big Pharma while ignoring the compelling, consistent, signal of what lifestyle as medicine could do for us all.
We could prevent all those heart attacks, and more, without putting statins in the drinking water. We could add years to life, and life to years, and save rather than spend money doing it -- if lifestyle were our preferred medicine. The signal has been there for literal decades that minimally 80 percent of all heart disease could be eliminated by lifestyle means readily at our disposal…
And so our debate about statins, seemingly so important, plays out in the static of the status quo. No matter who wins the debate about statin indications, we the people -- the tens of millions of people who, either way, are missing the signal and will wind up taking drugs to fix what lifestyle could fix better -- lose.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Does smoking pot cause man boobs?

(CNN) [C]an smoking pot really give you man boobs?
Probably. Although the association between marijuana and gynecomastia hasn't been conclusively proven, it appears very plausible. For this reason, the majority of plastic surgeons I've consulted with routinely inquire with their gynecomastia patients about cannabis use and recommend they stop smoking pot immediately.
So for now, if you have moobs, it's probably best to put out that joint.
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How do you perform a skin self-exam? Find out here.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) It’s a good idea to check your skin regularly for new growths or other changes. Although skin changes are not necessarily a sign of trouble, a change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer.
The information on Skin Cancer was developed for NIHSeniorHealth by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at NIH.
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Dangerous Global Warming Closer than You Think, Climate Scientists Say

(Scientific American) Abrupt climate change is not only imminent, it's already here. The rapid dwindling of summer Arctic sea ice has outpaced all scientific projections, which will have impacts on everything from atmospheric circulation to global shipping. And plants, animals and other species are already struggling to keep up with rapid climate shifts, increasing the risk of mass extinction that would rival the end of the dinosaurs. So warns a new report from the U.S. National Research Council.
That's exactly why longtime climate scientist James Hansen and a panoply of scientists and economists are urging in another new paper that current efforts to restrain global warming are woefully inadequate. In particular, global negotiations to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius risk "wrecking the planet," in the words of lead author Hansen, recently retired head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a researcher at Columbia University's Earth Institute.
"We started this paper to provide a basis for legal actions against governments for not doing their jobs and protecting the rights of young people and future generations," Hansen said of the paper, entitled "Assessing 'Dangerous Climate Change.'" "We can't burn all these fossil fuels. There is no recognition of this in government policies."
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US charges Russian diplomats with healthcare fraud

(Reuters) U.S. prosecutors have charged 49 current and former Russian diplomats and their family members with participating in a scheme to get health benefits intended for the poor by lying about their income…
According to the charges, filed in November and unsealed on Thursday, the diplomats' families got around $1.5 million in benefits from the Medicaid program for families with low monthly incomes - in many cases around $3,000 or less.
The benefits covered costs related to pregnancies, births and infant care, the charges say.
The family members also had their housing costs paid for by the Russian government and spent "tens of thousands of dollars" on vacations, jewelry and luxury goods from stores like Swarovski and Jimmy Choo, the charges said.
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Sandy Hook spurs states' mental health push

(Politico) At least 37 states have increased spending on mental health in the year since Adam Lanza shot dead 20 children, six school employees and his mother in Newtown, Conn. It’s not just about money, either. States are experimenting with new — and sometimes controversial — ways to raise awareness about psychological distress, to make treatment more accessible for children and adults and to keep firearms away from those struggling with mental illness.
Nevada, for instance, is launching a pilot program to screen children in secondary schools for mental health concerns. Texas not only boosted mental health funding by a record $300 million over two years, but required public school teachers and students to be trained in recognizing mental illness. Utah will require school districts to offer parents an annual seminar on mental health, including depression and suicide. Colorado established a 24-hour crisis hotline.
The new initiatives don’t make up for the more than $4 billion cut from state mental health budgets during the lean years of the recent recession. And they weren’t universal: A half-dozen states cut funding on mental health this year, including Louisiana, Maine and North Carolina.
But overall, advocates say they are thrilled at the breadth and depth of the commitments from lawmakers of both parties.
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